Serendipity Strikes Again



I was browsing new blogs earlier today, and I found an interesting post about iTunes U on Rottin’ in Denmark. By the way, if you’re looking for some interesting perspectives on the world at large, this is a good blog to follow. Anyway, There was a reference in this post to a site I had never heard of: Coursera. I’m always looking for new places to take some online courses, so I clicked the link.

To quote the Coursera mission statement:

Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.

It sounded interesting, so I browsed around. Courses from all kinds of places! Duke University, Copenhagen Business School, even Caltech. Most of them, fortunately for me, are in English. There’s even a few specialization tracks set up, mostly in technology fields.

A couple of things caught my eye. One is a class from the university of Michigan on social network analysis. My undergraduate degree is in sociology, I love technology, so this sounded great. Another is a 10-course specialization in data science from Johns Hopkins University. I love playing with data, so this sounded pretty fascinating, too.

What to do? Social network analysis, or data science? The first could be useful at work right away. The second could be useful long term in my career, and make me more employable. I went back and forth for a few hours, asked some friends, and just ended up even more undecided. Finally, I figured, why not take both?

So that’s what I’m doing. Tomorrow I start a course in social network analysis, and the first course in the data science program, The Data Scientist’s Toolbox. This should be fun!


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